US army still holding Ongwen, says embassy

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Contradicted. The UPDF had Wednesday claimed the rebel had been handed over to them

The US government has said the deputy commander of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) ‘Maj Gen’ Dominic Ogwen who surrendered early this week, is still in the custody of American troops hunting down the rebel group in the Central African Republic (CAR).

The public affairs officer at the US embassy in Kampala, Mr Daniel Travis, said they were still in talks with the relevant parties in the anti-LRA operation on the next course of action to take on Ongwen.

“Dominic Ongwen, one of the LRA ‘s senior leaders, is in the custody of US forces deployed to the Central African Republic in support of the African Union’s Regional Counter-LRA Task Force (AU-RTF),” Mr Travis said in an email to Daily Monitor yesterday.

This is contrary to earlier reports on Wednesday that US troops had handed over Ongwen to the Uganda People’s Defence Forces at their base in CAR.

“In coordination with the AU-RTF, US military forces took custody of an individual claiming to be a defector from the LRA; that individual later identified himself as Ongwen,” Mr Travis said.

The UPDF spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankuda, had said on Wednesday that Ongwen had been placed into the hands of the Ugandan military.

Ongwen is one of the five LRA commanders, who were, in 2005 indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. He was commander of the LRA’s notorious Sinia Brigade which committed atrocities in northern Uganda.

He surrendered on Tuesday to Seleka rebels in CAR who handed him over to the American troops there.
The UPDF reported him dead in October 2005 but the ICC at The Hague reported in 2006 that the genetic bio-data of the claimed dead person was not Ongwen.

“It would be irresponsible to prematurely speculate about what the outcome of these discussions might be as we work towards the common goal of assuring that LRA leaders face justice for their crimes,” Mr Travis said in the email.

The Permanent Secretary in the Foreign Affairs ministry, Mr James Mugume, had earlier said Uganda would consult The Hague on whether Ongwen should be handed over to the ICC for prosecution.